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Chapter 3 – Gospel and Country Roots of Rock

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1 Chapter 3 – Gospel and Country Roots of Rock
“Blues are the songs of despair, but gospel songs are the songs of hope” – Mahalia Jackson McGraw-Hill/Irwin Copyright © 2011 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

2 Gospel Roots Spirituals – religious folk songs (mid-18th cent. – the 19th century) and coded messages Gospel Music – call and response tradition from African music “Melismas” embellish melodies sung by soloists Mahalia Jackson ( ), known as the Queen of Gospel The Soul Stirrers (formed, 1926, and first recorded in 1936) featured Sam Cooke and many other soul singers early in their careers 3-2

3 Listening Guide “How Far Am I from Canaan?” by the Soul Stirrers with Sam Cooke (1952) Tempo: 96 beats per minute, 4 beats per bar, with double-time second section at 192 beats per minute Form: First half: four 8-bar phrases Second half: four 16-bar phrases Coda Features: Sam Cooke sings lead adding many melismas to embellish the melody, the Soul Stirrers sustain chords or add vocal responses. A drummer accompanies the singers with bass drum and back beats accented by a high hat cymbal Uneven beat subdivisions are used throughout Lyrics: The singer yearns for the beatific sate of heaven, but doesn’t know when he can enter it 3-3

4 Listening Guide Full-choir gospel style started by Thomas A. Dorsey in the early 1930s, made popular by the Edwin Hawkins Singers in the 1960s “Oh Happy Day” by the Edwin Hawkins Singers (1969) Tempo: 112 beats per minute, 4 beats per bar Form: Phrase and section lengths vary Features: Even beat subdivisions Rhythm section maintains a steady beat, but the vocalists sometimes speed up slightly, adding the effect of enthusiasm Dorothy Morrison uses melismas in her lead vocals, a large chorus responds without embellishing the melody Lyrics: The singers exclaim their joy at religious conversion Charts: Pop, #4, R&B, #2 for 2 weeks, British Hits, #2 3-4

5 Doo-Wop Listening Guide
Doo-Wop Secular music sung by gospel-influenced groups, named for the nonsense syllables sung by backup singers Listening Guide: “Crying in the Chapel” by the Orioles (1953) Tempo: 69 beats per minute, 4 beats per bar Form: AABA song form Features: Sonny Til improvises melismas in his lead vocals, the other singers respond simple words or syllables Uneven beat subdivisions are used Instruments include trumpet, alto saxophone, Hammond organ, bass, and drums The drums keep a strong back beat Lyrics: The key to spiritual joy is humility Charts: R&B, #1 for five weeks 3-5

6 Cover Records A recording of a song made after the original recording The songwriter’s permission is not necessary, but the credit must be given to the writer so that the writer can receive royalty income for all recordings of the song Lyrics and productions can be changed from the original in the cover recording The United States Copyright Law in 1978 allows the songwriter or heirs to collect royalty income for the writer’s life and 50 years beyond his/her death After copyright has expired, the song is in public domain and can be used without the payment of a writer’s royalty Note: This information is about recordings. The writer’s or publisher’s written permission is needed to use music in a written work 3-6

7 Listening Guide “Sh-boom” by the Chords (1954) Tempo: 134 beats per minute, 4 beats per bar Form: 4-bar introduction, then 8-bar periods, with one 4-bar extension where the title text is repeated Features: vocal group accompanied by guitar, string bass, and drums with a saxophone for instrumental solos Uneven beat subdivisions 2-bars of the introduction are sung “a cappella” (without instruments) Most of the song is sung by the vocal group, but a bass singer sings one section The “doo-wop” chord progression (I-vi7-ii7-V7) is used Lyrics: The song is about simple love and sexual desire Charts: Pop, #9, R&B, #2 for two weeks 3-7

8 Listening Guide “Sh-Boom” by the Crew-Cuts (1954) Tempo: 134 beats per minute, 4 beats per bar Form: Most of the song is structured like the recording by the Chords Features: The vocal group is accompanied by a full swing-style dance band including several saxophones, brass instruments, a rhythm section, and a kettledrum The introduction is sung by an accompanied solo singer The periods are sung by various different soloists, none of whom is a bass, The last seven periods are sung by the full group. There are no full instrumental sections. The “doo-wop” chord progression (I-vi7-ii7-V7) is used Lyrics: The lyrics are the same as those in the Chords’ recording, with some minor changes in the backup syllables Charts: Pop, #1 for seven weeks, British hits, #12 3-8

9 Listening Guide “There Goes My Baby” by the Drifters (1959) Tempo: 126 beats per minute, 4 beats per bar Form: Eight 8-bar periods A variant version of the doo-wop progression is followed (I-I-vi7-vi7-IV-IV-V7-V7) The ending fades out Features: The vocals and background instruments vary from one period to another as follows: 1. Bass solo voice with backup vocals, then strings swirl in at end 2. Lead singer (Ben E. King) sings with instruments 3. King’s solo includes soft backup vocal responses 4. Vocal group leads and King sings responses 5. King sings lead with lower strings accompanying 6. King and strings include backup vocals sustaining chords 7. King’s lead and swirling violins 8. King with full vocal group No backbeat is accented Uneven beat subdivisions are used Lyrics: The singer’s lover has gone and he wishes to tell her of his love for her Charts: Pop, #2, R&B, #1 3-9

10 Country Music Country music is a commercial form of folk music, first called “hillbilly” music Roots in the British Isles Dances (the jig, reel, polka, waltz, and round dances) accompanied by fiddle (violin), the guitar, plucked and strummed dulcimers, piano, and the harmonica The banjo (of African origin) added after the Civil War ended (1865). End of the 1930s, string bass, the steel guitar, and autoharp also common 3-10

11 Country Music, continued
Many country styles avoided drums and amplification, but the few that used them greatly influenced rock and roll including: Western swing from Texas – influences from the blues and jazz (Influenced early rock by Bill Haley) Honky tonk – Bar or saloon music, loud with a steady, danceable beat, and song lyrics about depressing life events (Influenced the development of 50’s Rockabilly music) 3-11

12 Elements of Country Music
General elements of Country music that influenced Early Rock and Roll: Very steady beat Beat patterns in 2, 3, or 4 beats (4-beat patterns is most common in rock music) Even beat subdivisions are used Harmonies usually simple triads (3-note chords without added notes Eight-bar periods composed of w four-bar phrases are most common (12-bar blues form also sometimes used) Two-beat bass (bass alternating notes on beats 1 and 3 of a 4-bar pattern) often used Song lyrics about singer’s feelings, tell stories, or describe events Singers often use a nasal tone quality and sound depressed Vocal duos, trios, and quartets with main melody in the middle, not on top Sliding between notes or chords used In some voices and instruments 3-12

13 Notable Country Music Figures
Jimmy Rodgers ( ) often called the Father of Country Music Broke the tradition of performing only traditional songs and wrote new songs Influenced most country singers to follow him as singers and songwriters Hank Williams Sr. (1923 – 1953) Singer, songwriter Father of Hank Williams Jr. and Grandfather of Hank Williams III, both of whom still perform 3-13

14 Listening Guide “I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive” by H. Williams (1952) Tempo: 118 beats per minute, 4 beats per bar Form: 2-bar with pickups intro. by 2 fiddles AABA song form, 8-bar periods Features: Very steady beat, but uneven beat subdivisions Two-beat bass – string bass Back beats in acoustic rhythm guitar Instrumentals by steel guitar and fiddles often sliding from note to note Drums subtle, but supportive Simple, three note chord harmonies Vocals sound of the verge of tears Lyrics: The singer virtually glories in his continuing bad luck Charts: Country, #1 3-14

15 Johnny Cash (1932 – 2003) At Sun Record Co. when Elvis Presley was there Wrote and recorded country songs, but “crossed over” to the pop charts with “I Walk the Line” and other hits Known as the “Man in Black” when many country performers wore colorful outfits 3-15

16 Listening Guide “I Walk the Line” by Johnny Cash (1956) Tempo: 216 beats per minute, 4 beats per bar Form: Strophic 19-bar instrumental introduction 16-bar verses 8-bar instrumentals between verses Features: Even beat subdivisions Two-beat bass on bass and bass strings of guitar Wax paper wound through guitar strings muffle sound Drums are subdued Lyrics: “walking the line” is a metaphor for the lover being true and loyal despite a separation. Charts: Pop, #17, Country, #1 for six weeks 3-16

17 Discussion question Both blues and country lyrics can express downheartedness. What are some differences in the kinds of expression between the two styles, and what are some reasons for the differences? 3-17

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